Showing posts with label bishamonten. Show all posts
Showing posts with label bishamonten. Show all posts

Wednesday, December 6, 2023

Shrines along the way on Day 64


Early March, 2014, and on day 64 of my walk around Kyushu I walked from Nagasaki, up the coast of Omura Bay, to Nagaura, stopping in, as usual, to as many shrines as I passed.

In Togitsu I stopped in at a branch shrine of Yutoku Inari, and  not too long after I spied the succession of red torii on a hillside that led to a small roadside Inari Shrine.

A little further, still in Togitsu, I visited a branch of  Kumano Shrine. Enshrining Susano, Hayatamano, and Kotoshironushi.

There was not anything particularly interesting or unusual, though I did notice a sumo ring.

Further on I climbed up the steps to a branch of Katori Shrine. The shrine history has it being established in 1637, but at that time it was dedicated to Bishamonten, one of the Shitenno, four heavenly kings, of Buddhism. It became a Katori shrine in 1868.

Katori shrines enshrine Futsunushi, mythical ancestor of the Mononobe clan and linked to swords and warriors. Bishamonten was also lonked to warriors and so tye switch was kind of easy.

It also featured a small sumo ring in the grounds. I have noticed that only a few areas of Japan tend to have sumo rings in their grounds.

My final stop is marked as a shrine on the maps, has a torii and shimenawa, but enshrines Yakushi, the Medicine Buddha, and also has a statue of Amida in the grounds. Called Rurikoden, not sure why its identity is so confused, though that is not as unusual as many think. Whether something is a shrine or a temple is a somewhat arbitrary distinction made by politicians.

The previous post in the series was on Nagaura, the small fishing harbour where I spent the night.

Thursday, September 14, 2023

Shofukuji Temple Nagasaki


Shofukuji is the 4th of the Chinese temples built in Nagasaki during the Edo Period. Like  nearby Fukusaiji Temple, it is not located in Teramachi like Sofukuji and Kofukuji, but north of the river.

The Sanmon, the main gate, was built in 1703. Along with the other main structures of Shofukuji, it is an Important Cultural Property and is currently undergoing major renovation.

Shofukuji was founded in 1677 by a disciple of Ingen, the founder of the  Obaku sect of Zen which had been founded in 1661. The other three Chinese temples became Obaku after 1661, but Shofukuji is the only one founded as Obaku.

The Tenmoden was built in 1705. The Japanese carpenters had started to slightly adapt and alter the Chinese style architecture.

When I visited in 2014 the place was deserted, somewhat run-down, and with no entry fee, so this contributed to an atmosphere. It is now undergoing major renovations so I suspect it will have an entry fee in the future.

The Tenmoden Hall contains a large statue of Hotei, one of the Seven Lucky Gods in Japan, and originally a Chinese monk named Budai. In the West, he is often referred to as the Laughing Buddha.

The main hall, Daiyuhoden, was built in 1697. Unlike the other Chinese temples in Nagasaki, much of the woodwork here was left unpainted.

The Bell Tower was built in 1716. Unusually the bell was not "donated" to the war effort in the 1940's like most temple bells.

Another difference between Shofukuji and the other Chinese temples in Nagasaki is that Shofukuji always had Japanese priests, whereas the other three started with Chinese priests.

The Kawarabei is an old wall constructed using old rooftiles and other decorations like Onigawara. Another thing to look out for is a monument to a young woman named Oharu who was expelled from Japan when all foreigners, excluding the Dutch, were expelled. Any Japanese families of Europeans expelled were also exiled. Also in 2020 a statue of Ryoma Sakamoto was erected to memorialize a meeting that took place here between the Tosa and Kishu clans.

The previous post in this series documenting my explorations of Nagasaki on Day 60 of my Kyushu Pilgrimage was on the statuary and architectural details of Kofukuiji Temple.

Friday, August 4, 2023

Seisuiji Temple 7 Iwami Kannon Pilgrimage


Seisuiji Temple is a small place up in the middle of what used to be the silver mine in the World Heritage Iwami Ginzan sites.

It is number 7 on the Iwami Mandala Kannon Pilgrimage route, but used to be number 1,  the starting point of the original Edo Period Iwami Kannon Pilgrimage.

It was located high up on the mountain and was probably the most important temple for the mine back in the late 15th, and early 16th centuries.

It was moved to its current location at the base of the mountain in 1878. The gate was moved here in 1931 from a defunct temple that administered the main shrine of the mine. 

The honzon is an eleven-headed Kannon, and the main gate houses a wonderful pair of guardian statues, a Fudo Myo and a Bishamonten. Seisuiji is a Shingon temple.

During the heyday of the mine, the temple received many donations and much support from merchants, samurai, daimyo, and even the Shogun.

This visit was on the 4th day of my walk along the Iwami Pilgrimage, and the previous post was of my walk up through the preservation district of Omori, the town that serviced the mine.

Monday, April 4, 2022

Kumadaniji Temple Revisited

Kumadaniji Temple 熊谷寺

The Tahoto, two-storied pagoda, at Kumadaniji Temple. Built in 1701, it is an Important Cultural property of Tokushima. The Tahoto is usually found at Shingon and sometimes Tendai temples.Kumadaniji is Shungon.

It is temple number 8 on the Shikoku Ohenro pilgrimage, but I was revisiting it on day 2 of my walk along the Shikoku Fudo Myoo pilgrimage which followed a similar route for the first day and a half.

Earlier I posted about the impressive Niomon gate that stands out in the valley. At the Sanmon, Mountain gate, of the temple there were a pair of Shitenno guardians, Jikokuten, I believe, pictured above.

The main hall of the temple burned down in 1928, but the Daishido, pictured above, survived. It was built in 1774.

A statue of Kobo Daishi as a mendicant monk stands in front of the bell tower.

A statue of Bishamointen, another of the Shitenno, at Kumadaniji Templenin Tokushima.

Wednesday, July 7, 2021

The Magnificent Shitenno of Renge-in Tanjyoji Temple


Heading out of Tamana in Kumamoto on day 49 of my walk, I spied a tall pagoda, and heading over to investigate discovered this huge temple, Renge0in Tanjyiji. In the next post I will delve into the background of the temple, but for now I will just focus on the splendid gate. 15 meters tall and built solely out of wood in 2011, it houses the 4 Shitenno, the Heavenly Kings, Guardians of the 4 directions.

Standing more than 4 meters in height, they are said to be the biggest Shitenno statues in Japan. Zochoten. Guarding the south, Zochoten is associated with prosperity and spiritual growth. His season is summer, his colour is red, and his element is fire. Depicted with one hand on his hip, and the other holding a pole weapon.

Jikokuten means Guardian of the Nation, and he usually carries a sword and a staff, but not in this statue. He guards the east and his element is water. Associated with strength, he is either blue or green, and his season is spring.

All the Shitenno are depicted stepping on small, demonic creatures called Jaki or Jyaki, symbolizing their suppression of evil.

Tamonten is often known as Bishamonten and was adopted by the samurai and hence acquired an identity as a God of War. Guardian of the north, his element is earth and his color is black. All-knowing and all-hearing he is also associated with wealth and is usually depicted with a pagoda on one hand.

Guardian of the west, Komokuten sees through evil. He is usually depicted holding a scroll and a brush. His colour is white and his element is metal and season is autumn.

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

Dounzan Temple 1 on the Shodoshima Pilgrimage


The main hall of Dounzan Temple is, like many of the temples on the Shodoshima Pilgrimage, a cave. It is located high up near the top of 434 meter high Goishizan in the SE of the island. It is temple number 1 on the pilgrimage, but very few pilgrims nowadays start here. I reached it towards the end of my first day walking the pilgrimage.

Arriving at the temple you first visit a standard temple building, the Daishi-do, enshrining Kobo daishi, the focus of this 88 temple pilgrimage. From there the path heads up through a stand of giant sugi trees to the first cave, Here is a spring that, like so many springs around the island and also on Shikoku, is sid to have been created by Kobo Daishi himself.

In the cave is a very slender statue of Kannon. A few days on either side of the summer solstice the sun hits the cave in such a way that the shadows create an image on the wall that looks like Kannon. The statue takes the same form. The temple is sometimes referred to as Geshi Kannon because of this.

The path then skirts the cliff face until a set of steps that have been built leading up and in to the main hall, the cave called Zaundo. Before the steps there would probably have been a set of chains hanging down for ascetic pilgrims to climb up into the cave.

Inside the tall cave is an eight-sided shrine housing a statue of Bishamonten, the honzon of the temple.

Monday, December 7, 2020

Takatera-in Temple 52 on the Kyushu Pilgrimage


As the suffix "in" shows, this was not originally a full temple, rather a hermitage.

The main building seems to be primarily the priests house. However the focus of the temple is the okunoin, or inner sanctuary.

Reached via 375 stone steps, after climbing to the top there is still a walk through the forest along an ancient stone path.

The okunoin used to house three statues of Bishamonten, two of which are registered nationally as Important Cultural Propertis and are now kept in the temple's teasure house and ar not normally shown to the public.